If Gavin Moynihan needed any reminding that he’s now playing in the big leagues, the harsh reality of another damaging start to a European Tour event may have just hit that message home.
There was no excuse of ill-preparation this week as Moynihan opened with a four-over-par round of 75 yesterday on day one of the Tshwayne Open in South Africa.
The Dubliner may have bowed out early in Doha last time out, but with a five-under-par 67 in round two in his back pocket, it was hoped that would prove the much-needed confidence boost that had eluded his fledgling career to date.
Whatever good feeling he carried into Pretoria, however, was soon lost. Starting from the 10th, Moynihan got off to the worst possible start dropping successive shots with bogey fives on 10 and 11. He lost another stroke on 14 too but to his credit, he didn’t allow his frustration get the better of him.
He picked up three birdies in his next four, dropping another stroke in between, but at one over for his outward half the day remained salvageable. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Gavin though as he dropped three more strokes on the way in without making a birdie to compensate.
Five missed cuts in a row and now facing down the barrel of a sixth, Gavin’s unforgiving introduction to top-tier golf refuses to get any easier.
He can take solace in the fact that he’s mixed it with the bog boys on occasions in the past and come out the right side of par. He made use of a precious invite to last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open finishing t-14th, while he also secured a stellar finish off an invite at last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, ending the week inside the leaderboard’s top-50.
Still, playing for your livelihood week after week and playing off unexpected invites are two very different pressures that Gavin will understand now more than anyone. It could even be argued that his round two 67 after a first round blow-out in Qatar was pressure-free in itself – the weekend cut well out of reach.
Yet there’s no denying Moynihan has the game to compete at this level. The real question is, does he have the mental strength to produce his best stuff in this most competitive environment? I guess only time will tell.